Twentieth birthdays should be joyous, but such isn’t the case with the Audi TT. To celebrate two decades of its sporty compact, Audi introduced a 20th Anniversary Edition, but it’s hardly a consolation prize for learning the TT will end its run in a few years.
Along with a special edition, the TT receives a light refresh for 2019. This includes updates to the exterior design to make it even sharper and a new seven-speed dual-clutch transmission to replace the previous six-speed. Overall, though, it’s the same road candy it has always been.
Despite its looks, the TT is not a true sports car—those looking for thrilling performance will likely want a TT RS. The regular TT packs a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with a respectable 228 hp. Its 6.2-second run from 0 to 60 mph isn’t exactly sports car territory. But if you can get past a bit of lag when you first press the gas, the healthy surge of power will put a smile on your face.
The 2019 Audi TT Roadster we recently tested accelerates to 60 mph with the likes of the 2019 Lexus ES 350 Ultra Luxury (6.1 seconds) and Genesis G70 2.0T (6.2 seconds). The TT is small but not particularly light. Our 3,359-pound tester was considerably slower than a much lighter and slightly more powerful 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider we tested, which hit the mark in 4.2 seconds. Looking for around 400 hp? The more potent 2018 TT RS managed a 3.4-second time.
Sadly, numb steering continues to plague the experience in the TT. It lacks the sharp reflexes you’d expect from a sports car. In the figure eight, the TT clocked 25.3 seconds at an average 0.71 g, once again behind the Alfa at 24.7 seconds at 0.81 g. Also compare the regular TT to the TT RS, which rounds the bends in 23.7 seconds at 0.85 g.
“Quick but boring,” testing director Kim Reynolds said of the TT’s figure eight. “Not much to do here. Accelerate, brake, turn. It understeers enough and soon enough that you reach the tire’s limit, and that’s that. No slide, no slew, no interest.”
The seven-speed transmission is a bit overeager at low speeds, and the ride won’t live up to your expectations of a sports car. It fails to filter out the road imperfections, leaving it loose and unsettled over bumps and uneven surfaces. Fortunately, not too much wind noise seeps into the cabin with the top up, but you’ll encounter some road noise.
Dare we say the TT’s biggest strength is its design? Our 20th Anniversary Edition is particularly striking with luscious brown Nappa leather upholstery set off by yellow stitching, recreating the baseball stitching of the original TT. Making efficient use of a small space, a fully digital instrument cluster doubles as the infotainment system, as there is no central screen. It’s a clean and refreshing setup.
As many luxury amenities as it offers, the TT lacks some features, and not just the traditional screen. Roadster versions don’t come with a rear seat. The TT also doesn’t offer automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, or lane departure warning. Neither IIHS nor NHTSA has released crash test ratings for the model.
Even though there are plenty of things we’ll miss about the TT, including its all-wheel-drive traction, it makes sense Audi is pulling the cord. Not that it’s been a banner year for passenger car sales, but the TT dropped 33 percent in the first half of 2019 compared with the same time period last year, with only 636 copies sold.
Volkswagen Group is shifting its investments to utility vehicles and EVs. Its electric spree includes the new E-Tron SUV, which battles the Tesla Model X, as well as the E-Tron GT four-passenger sedan, E-Tron Sportback, Q4 E-Tron SUV, and the China-only Q2 L E-Tron SUV. Audi will have 12 pure electric vehicles in its stable globally by 2025.
Audi vows to replace the TT with an “emotive” electric car in the same price range. This plan has the potential to improve the drive experience, giving it instant power off the line. And it could make the vehicle a little more practical; the current TT isn’t particularly efficient at 23/31 mpg city/highway.
We don’t know exactly what to expect from the TT’s replacement, but it would make sense if the car moved to the MEB platform underpinning the ID family. The ID hatch is a kind of spiritual successor to the Golf, and the TT has ties to the small car. The flexible skateboard platform would help justify the survival of a niche vehicle like the TT, as we’ve seen with the ID Buggy. At any rate, there’s great potential the TT will live on in a newer, more competent package, and that’s something we should celebrate.
|2019 Audi TT Quattro Roadster (Twenty Years)|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$57,795|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, AWD, 2-pass, 2-door convertible|
|ENGINE||2.0L/228-hp/258-lb-ft turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4|
|TRANSMISSION||7-speed twin-clutch auto|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||3,359 lb (59/41%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||165.0 x 71.4 x 53.3 in|
|0-60 MPH||6.2 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||14.9 sec @ 93.1 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||106 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.97 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||25.3 sec @ 0.71 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||23/31/26 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||147/109 kW-hr/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.75 lb/mile|